Eliza Doolittle Pygmalion Essay

Eliza Doolittle: Pygmalion

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The play Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw has many different characters that bring much to the play due to their backgrounds, feelings, and intentions. One of these remarkable and famous characters is Eliza Doolittle. How Eliza comes across, how she is treated by others, and how she changes are what make Eliza such a wonderful character. Firstly, Eliza comes across as a sassy, smart-mouthed flower girl with horrible English, and is transformed to a still sassy, figure fit to consort with nobility. She has self confidence but wants to improve her well being. This is why she goes to Mr. Higgins for help. She is not at all a romantic figure.

Everything about Eliza Doolittle seems to defy any conventional notions about a romantic heroine. The character of Eliza Doolittle comes across as being much more instrumental than fundamental. She also comes across as not being afraid of anyone. She is not worried about anyone hitting her, and will make sure that she doesn’t do anything wrong because she continually says “I’m a good girl I am. ” Eliza Doolittle doesn’t loose any of her confidence when she is transformed into a lady, and perhaps even gains more. In the end of act five she stands up for herself to Mr. Higgins and says “I’ll go and be a teacher… I’ll teach phonetics…

I’ll offer myself as an assistant to Professor Nepean” defying Professors Higgins. This is when Eliza comes across as an independent woman. Secondly, Eliza is treated poorly by many who surround her. Her father is not there for her during her lifetime and the only time he comes around is to “touch” money from others. He comes to Higgins and wants him to pay for Eliza. When Eliza sees him and sticks her tongue out at him, he goes to hit her. She says “I don’t want never to see him again I don’t. ” Higgins also doesn’t treat Eliza very well. In the beginning he says that she “has no right to be anywhere-no right to live. And she is “a disgrace to humanity. ” He continues throughout the play to treat he like a flower girl or “dirt he walks on. ” The only time Higgins begins to see Eliza not as a mill around his neck, but as a creature worthy of his admiration, is when she stands up to him in the end of the play. Despite how Eliza is treated by these two characters she is still confident, and demands to be treated like a duchess. Thirdly, Eliza goes through a tremendous transformation on the outside but still stays the same on the inside. Before Eliza first encountered Mr. Higgins, she was simply a dirty, yet caring girl in the gutter of London.

During her time with both Mr. Higgins and Colonel Pickering, Eliza did change on the outside. She became well mannered and beautifully dressed. In the beginning, she didn’t have manners and had very extreme emotional reactions. She went from this dirty flower girl with horrible English, to lady respected by nobility but still kept her same confidence and personality. After the ambassador’s ball, we see Eliza’s same personality resurfacing. She starts to worry again, and since she has grown attached to Higgins and Pickering, is devastated to see their finding her so trivial.

Eliza’s basic character remains relatively unchanged. We can still observe the old Eliza, under the upper-class persona. The play, “Pygmalion” brings out the message that looks can be extremely deceiving, while touching on the issue that self presentation really does change the way people look at you. In conclusion, Eliza is such a wonderful loved character. She becomes this by how she comes across, how she is treated by others, and the change she goes through. She is able to overcome anything, stick to her heart and have the confidence to stand up for herself to anyone.

Author: Brandon Johnson

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Eliza Doolittle: Pygmalion

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Under the tutelage of Henry Higgins, Eliza Doolittle's accent, dress, and manners change so that she transforms from a working-class Cockney woman into an upper-class English lady. By showing how easily Eliza becomes upper-class by adopting only a few superficial changes, Shaw skewers an ideology that maintains that the upper classes are "innately" superior to the the lower. Even a little education, the play shows, can make a lady out of a flower seller.

But...

Under the tutelage of Henry Higgins, Eliza Doolittle's accent, dress, and manners change so that she transforms from a working-class Cockney woman into an upper-class English lady. By showing how easily Eliza becomes upper-class by adopting only a few superficial changes, Shaw skewers an ideology that maintains that the upper classes are "innately" superior to the the lower. Even a little education, the play shows, can make a lady out of a flower seller.

But Eliza's transformation goes deeper, and Shaw shows this to be both positive and negative. On the positive side, her acceptance into higher society builds her sense of confidence and self-worth. She rebels and asserts herself against Henry Higgins' verbal abuse, such as his calling her a "squashed cabbage," as well as his careless assumption that she will always function to suit his convenience--and go away as soon as she becomes inconvenient. Henry treats her as a thing: Eliza insists, at the end, on being treated as a human. On the negative side, however, the play points out that by transforming Eliza into a lady, Higgins has left her unfit for any role in society but marriage. Shaw critiques a culture in which a woman's ascent up the class ladder leaves her increasingly useless and dependent. As a working girl selling flowers, Eliza might have been very poor, but at least she could earn her own keep. As a lady, she must marry and rely on a man to support her, for holding a job in that class would be unacceptable for a woman. 

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